Playful Picture Books to Explore

Whether relaying conceptual understandings, or understanding the minds of young explorers, picture books can take their readers on imaginative, sensory and mind-boggling journeys. Making discoveries through play and contextual language opens up a whole new way of perceiving the world. Just look at these new titles that inspire a range of learning adventures.

From Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury‘s classic quest, ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ comes the must-haves; My Explorer’s Journal and My Adventure Field Guide.

The latter includes the most fascinating contents that will keep you in good stead as you embark on your outdoor nature journey. Whether rain, hail or shine, a rainforest, caves, mountains or your backyard, there’s plenty to explore. Complete with planning and safety tips, the guide sets out to encourage a field of fun activities for children and adults to delight in together. Chapters include facts, questions and experiments about the Sky, Down in the Ground, the Field, Plants and Trees, Creepy-Crawlies, Extraordinary Creatures, Tracks and our climate. With adorable illustrations and liveliness in essence of the original story, plus a comprehensive glossary, the Field Guide exudes a glorious sense of wonderment, excitement and acumen for your brave expedition.

The Explorer’s Journal is the perfect accompaniment as a keepsake record of your fun adventures, but also ‘bears’ it’s own weight as a stand-alone resource. There is space for sketching, writing and pasting in souvenirs, as well as a handy elastic close to keep your place. Following the same chapters as the Field Guide, this journal allows its users opportunities to find objects or animals, and make and record observations with the guidance of the clever, leading questioning and tasks. From creative writing to rainy day crafts, nature games, making perfume and actively encouraging sustainable living, little minds will be brimming with motivation to learn more about our beautiful world.

The We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Field Guide and Explorer’s Journal are treasure troves of amazing information, inspiration and pure joy, perfect for any backpacker from age five.

Walker Books UK, Walker Books Australia, April 2017.

Double Take! A New Look at Opposites will have your brains charging and your hearts pounding with chaotic goodness. Author Susan Hood cleverly winds exact opposites through a range of divergent perspectives.

Travelling with boy and elephant we meander along and across the town, from crossing the street to watering different-sized plants, balancing up in the sky to flexing down in the sea, observing in galleries, standing in queues and riding a roller coaster. What do all these have in common? Differing points of view. “Who knows what is BIG unless there is small? Does short measure up except next to TALL?” With a collection of opposites, prepositional language, and relative words and comparable contexts, Double Take! is so much fun and encouraging of perceptual awareness. Jay Fleck’s illustrations in blocks of colour and shape with his retro-look characters are the perfect match for the rollicking rhyme, wit and acuity gracing the pages. I give it the opposite of a low recommendation for preschoolers and above (or is it below?).

Walker Books UK, Walker Books Australia, July 2017.

Jez Alborough is the phenomenal success of classics like Where’s My Teddy? and Hug. In succession, his newest story is an adorable mix of innocence, cheekiness and warmth; it’s Play.

Simple sentences in speech bubbles relay the conversation between mummy chimp and baby Bobo. The detailed illustrations are the driving force leading its young observers through the recognisable feelings of curiosity, frustration, exhilaration, disappointment, rebellion, fear, anxiety, relief and finally, comfort. With Mum repeating “bedtime” and “stay”, all Bobo wants to do is “play”.

Swinging out of his tree without permission, the tiny chimp is lucky to have the support of the other animals to allow him his adventure out and back again with safety. The episodic layout gives the book a natural sense of playfulness as well as the clarity pre-readers will benefit from in understanding the sequence of events. With a strong-willed, relatable and loveable character, Play will become a nightly favourite for any toddler resisting the bedtime routine (and the demands of their parents!).

Walker Books UK, Walker Books Australia, July 2017.


Today I wanted to talk about two beautiful new books for younger readers where the main characters go out to explore the world and in the process, discover new things about themselves.

Both are baby animals, each with unique physical characteristics and the inquisitiveness and innocence of the very young.

Puggle, the echidna from Puggle’s Problem is missing his spikes and goes out seeking advice from other members of the animal kingdom to see if he can find a way to make them grow quicker.

Leon in Look Out Leon is a chameleon learning all about the advantages of changing colour.

Here’s a closer look at these unique, vibrant and appealing books.


Pipp is a baby echidna who is the same as every other echidna his age…except that he doesn’t yet have his spikes.

Koala thinks that eating lots of gum leaves might make them grow. Wombat advises that digging is the solution. Puggle even tries hopping like a kangaroo, but nothing seems to work.

In Puggle’s Problem, Pipp learns the importance of patience and perseverance, and that every problem has its up side.

Puggle’s Problem is the work of talented new writer, Aleesah Darlison who has six books being released in the next six months. Award-winning wildlife artist, Sandra Temple has stunningly illustrated this feel good tale which show-cases some of Australia’s best-loved native animals and their unique characteristics.

This books is beautifully illustrated and I loved the gentle humour reflected in both the text and the pictures.

Puggle’s Problem is published by Wombat Books.


A vibrant and simple novelty book about Leon, the chameleon who can’t go out exploring until he learns how to blend into his surroundings and hide from hungry eyes.

There are crocodiles, hippos, snakes and other creatures who look at Leon as a possible source of food so which colour should he blend in with?

This is a delightful interactive book in which young readers can pull the tabs to change the pictures…as if by magic.

The simple repetitive text and vibrant illustrations are bound to appeal to young readers.

Jez Alborough is a hugely popular author and illustrator of books for children, well known for his stories about Bobo the chimp, star of Hug & Yes.

Look Out Leon is published by Walker Books.

What I enjoyed about both these books was that as well as being thoroughly entertaining, they provide plenty of opportunity for young readers to learn, and explore.